The reception will be in our beloved home, into which I had just moved when I met Stephen, out for a drink round the corner with my new puppy in the Wykeham Arms, and learned about his PhD thesis on how stars are born. He came to see me there in my empty drawing room the next day with a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers and a plan for weekend children’s playdates. He never really went away again.
We love our home more than words can express. Even with the Itchen tributary at the bottom of the garden nearly overflowing and the sand-bags stacked, it is more than we ever dreamed of. The garden has apples, pears, plums, figs, blackberries, loganberries and an ancient mulberry tree cut from the one in Christ’s College, Cambridge, under which Milton, aptly enough, wrote Paradise Regained. The house, part Victorian and part William and Mary, in Jane Austen’s last resting place, could be from one of her novels. Once the palace of the Bishop of Basingstoke, then the Cathedral offices (people still come in looking for a parking permit), it is now very much our family home, perhaps for the rest of our lives.